Prof. Ernie Goss

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says Iowans may spend more online this holiday season, but in-store sales are likely to be down. His Rural Mainstreet Index indicates the combination means retail activity in the 2020 holiday period will drop..

“According to our survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of 10 states, including Iowa, they’re expecting holiday sales compared to 2019 to be down about 3.1%. Of course, that’s in-store sales,” Goss says. “The online sales are going to be up as much as 30%.”

On-line activity for the holiday sales period is well underway, according to Goss.

“Retailers this year have been particularly aggressive in starting early because they understand the stress that consumers are under this year,” Goss says.

Goss says consumers, in general, have more money to spend this year compared to last — because of the pandemic.

“The savings rate went from 2-3% for the consumer to about 28%, so there is some money out there,” Goss says, “particularly when consumers have cut back in other areas.”

But Goss says his survey and others indicate consumers are pessimistic and that dampens purchasing.Each month, Goss surveys bankers in 10 states in the Great Plains and Mountain West. The overall index for the Rural Mainstreet Survey’s overall index fell in November from October — the first month-to-month decline since April.